The Thief804Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡeubrgsap4U
Hazel Kisani was seated quietly at the wide table that inhabited Christel’s safe house. Christel himself sat beside her, and Hazel waited as he and Devin finished gawking over a building plan of the Piae Tovuus. She was exhausted – they had been sitting for hours now, and from this room she couldn’t tell if it was night-time yet or not. This was indeed, however, the third day.
She had wanted to go outside but Christel explained that it was unwise to go out into the city unless they had to – at least for him, seeing as he was a wanted man. She didn’t like the idea of being kept inside but she had to agree, and he was right anyway. Devin had left a few times already to acquire some things or make some arrangements. Little by little, the plan slowly came together.
“The good news is,” said Devin, “my spies have found a way for you to get into the Piae Tovuus.” He leaned away from the table. “Word has it that our friend Garn is throwing a ball party six days from now.”
“Oh, and what’s the occasion?” Christel asked.
“You will find, Mr Saan, that rich men don’t require an occasion when it comes to throwing parties. I’d imagine you’d know this with all that gold you have stashed away on that island of yours.”
“Will six days be enough time to prepare?” Hazel added – a more serious question.
“It’ll have to be,” Christel replied. “Hundreds of people all under the same roof will serve as good cover for us to move around.”
“Of course the treasury itself is located on the second floor,” Devin grinned with a challenging look. “No doubt that with so many people around Garn will have it heavily guarded. Are you sure you can pull this off?”
Christel’s eyes became as full as the blue sky. “Carley died trying to start this heist, there’s no way I’m not going to finish it, I owe her that much. And besides, Garn doesn’t know that we know about the treasure, so that gives us an advantage.” Christel leaned back over the table with a new expression of seriousness on his face. “Who’s the owner of the treasury?”
Hazel didn’t know as to who Carley was, but based on Devin’s stern reaction, she must have been someone important to them.
“Ah, that would be Mrs Maryanne Lynn,” Devin continued. “I believe you know her, that is, you’ve broken into her Eden home.”
“Who exactly is she? What’s her relationship with Garn?”
“I can’t say much about her and Garn, however she’s a real royal pain – believe me, I used to work for her. She’s cousin to the king you know.”
“Wait,” Hazel joined in, “if word reaches her about the necklace, won’t Garn begin to suspect the robbery?”
“That would be unlikely,” Devin answered again. “You see, I’d wager that Garn is a very precise man. He won’t cancel an event of this calibre on a whim. That is, of course, if he even knows that the necklace and his treasure are even related. He could have absolutely no idea at all.”
“Let’s assume he knows everything,” Christel added. “I don’t intend to make the same mistake twice.” Hazel picked up on another piece of their history. “Will we need Maryanne?” Christel continued.
“Well, as far as I know she’s the only one who knows the combination to the safe.”
“Is there any other way in?”
“Without being caught? No. I helped design the thing. The locks are made of pure benezian crystals, and the rest is thick blue-hardened steel, not to mention the alarms. It’s virtually impossible to break into.”
“So we find a way to get the combination,” Christel said.
“How?” Hazel questioned. “I don’t suppose she’ll just tell us.”
“There might be another way,” Devin pointed out. “Back when I worked for the palace I’d see old Mary carry around a little black journal from time to time. She’d use it for numbers, dates; little things like that. But the fact is, not once did I see that book leave her side. If I was willing to bet, I’d say that the combination was in there.”
“But how do we know that it’s in there for sure?” Christel challenged.
“We don’t,” Devin replied. “That’s why I have spies. We have six days until Garn’s party. They’ll let us know by then.”
“You mentioned alarms,” Christel continued. “Is this going to be problem?”
“Ah, I’ve already got that figured out. The alarms are set up as a series of triggers around the second floor – if you were to get caught by anyone the guards will activate the trigger and the alarm will sound, meaning bad news for us.”
“Okay, so what’s your plan?”
“There’s a little gadget of mine that I built myself just for this occasion. Mr Saan, if you could somehow attach this to the fuse box outside the house then I assure you the alarms will not bother you. Of course, with the power going out so suddenly, suspicions will be raised. You’ll only have a matter of time before they check the vault.”
Christel leaned back and crossed his arms. Hazel thought he saw the same flaw as she did, and she was right. “Not to mention the fact that Hazel and I will be very occupied inside. Who’s going to plant the fuse?”
Devin let out a quick chuckle. “Oh, that won’t be a problem,” he laughed. “The device will be on a timer.”
A timer! Hazel thought – it’s brilliant! “But that means we’ll have to carefully coordinate what we do. Even more so.”
Christel looked to her. “Hazel’s right. We’ll only have so much time to get to the vault upstairs, and even less time to get out with the gold. We’re going to have to be at the right place at the right time if we want this to work, and I’m going to need a new watch.”
Devin brushed his oily hair back over his head. “Very well then.”
Even though the general idea had come together, there was still a lot of work that had to be done. Unfortunately Hazel was not going to get out so easily. Oh well, it was a worthy price to pay.
“So what’s next?” she asked.
Devin turned to her. “Well I do believe you’ll both need invitations my dear. It is a formal event after all.”
“We’ll have to steal one, and then use it to make copies. Devin, do you have a list of all the guests that will be attending the party?”
Devin nodded his little head. “I do indeed. Now where did I put it?” He started rustling through all the papers that were on the table until he selected the right one. “Ah! Here it is.”
“Good, now I want you to find someone who’s close and preferably who’s easy to rob. Hazel and I should get some rest – we’ll set out on the morrow.”
Finally! Hazel beamed.
There were plenty of comfortable places in the bunker in which to sleep. Hazel had spent the past few nights on the couch, and although there were two beds, like little cushiony platforms that hung from the wall, she found that the couch was more comfortable.
As she lay down and submitted herself to sleep, she watched Devin who had remained at the table to do the task that Christel had given him. She could only see the edge of his face in the flicker of the single candle that he used for light.
What a strange man. He seemed so intelligent and resourceful, and the loyalty he showed to Christel was stunning. Hazel wondered about what his story was, who he had been and what he had done, until at last sleep took her.
Christel returned with Hazel to the workshop late on the afternoon of the following day. Hazel had bought a dress that was now wrapped in a fine silk cover and Christel held his new jacket over his shoulder. They walked through the array of loud working machinery until they reached the office room where they found Devin.
To Hazel he looked quite comfortable – sitting back with his feet on the desk, a straw hat resting on his head and covering his eyes, and a fine wooden pipe extending from between his teeth. He breathed out deeply and a cloud of smoke puffed from his nostrils and dispersed around the room.
“Devin!” Christel shouted, not angrily but not pleased either.
Devin jumped with surprise and dropped his pipe onto the floor. Some of the embers spilled across the ground. He lifted his hat and looked up at Christel. “Oh, Christel, it’s just you.”
Christel stepped forward. “Devin, is this really the time to be lazing around?” He sniffed the air curiously – inhaling some of the smoke. “What is that? Whitcotton?”
“It’s jurgentree weed, the best of its kind.” Devin collected his pipe and stood in front of Christel and Hazel. “I see you have your clothes for the party, and you remembered the masks?”
“I made sure we bought ones that hid our faces well,” Christel said.
Devin looked surprised. “Oh, you actually bought them, with money. I must say, old friend, you surprise me. And I hope no one gave you any trouble.”
“Not at all.”
“And the invitation?” he asked…
Christel thought back to the day’s events and he was quite proud of his work. He was like that sometime, when the satisfaction of stealing something had gotten to his head. Either way, he and Hazel had found Mrs Lisa – the target given to them by Devin – sitting outside a local café, just where Devin had said she would be, drinking her morning cup of coffee. She looked strange to Christel, but then again, everyone in Taelliwey looked strange to him. She wore a long orange coat over a striped silk shirt, and she had some parade of red ribbons tied all through her hair. This should be easy, Christel thought, as long as everything played out.
As soon as Mrs Lisa had left the café and headed down the street, Christel nodded to Hazel from the other side and moved forward. All I have to do is walk. And Christel walked towards Mrs Lisa casually, pretending to be focused on the shops nearby, however his mind was focused on Hazel who paced steadily behind the target and the handbag by Mrs Lisa’s side.
Christel lightly and deliberately bumped into Mrs Lisa as he walked, and then pretended to act surprised. It was a classic trick, however it was one that Christel had added a twist to. “Oh! Sorry. I can be so clumsy sometimes.” With his right hand he gripped Mrs Lisa by the shoulder to keep their balance, and with his left hand he swiftly took the sealed envelope from her handbag and passed it onto Hazel as she strolled by. He knew too well that the Taellians weren’t trusty. He walked away, and as he suspected the woman stopped him.
“Hey you!” she shouted, with a harsh bite to her tongue. “Yeah you! Come back here!”
Christel stopped and turned around innocently. “Me?”
“You just stole the envelope that was in my bag,” she accused.
“Please,” Christel said, “I can assure you I stole nothing, here…” He turned out his pockets to prove it.
Now she’s wondering why I’d bother stealing a piece of paper when there was so much else I could have taken. The women showed an unsure glance.
“Perhaps you lost it somewhere, now if you don’t mind I have somewhere I need to be…”
Christel stopped reminiscing as Hazel handed the invitation to Devin. “Excellent work. You never cease to amaze, old friend.”
In fine handwriting the invitation read: Please join us for a special occasion masquerade ball in honour of Mrs Maryanne Lynn, proud owner of the Taellian treasury. Saturday, June 15th, at seven o’clock in the evening. The Piae Tovuus Taellian treasury.
Devin held the invitation in his hands. “Truly excellent,” he said. “I’ll get to work on this right away.”
They followed Devin into the secret room where he collected his special bronze viewing glass that he strapped over his right eye. The device was quite amusing indeed.
“So now that we have these, do we have everything that we’ll need?” Hazel asked. “With the ball being two days from now, are we ready?”
Devin spoke, without raising his head from the invitation. “You’ll both need background stories. There’s no doubt that the other guests are going to want to know who you are.”
“We already handled that,” Christel said. “After we stole the invitation I took Hazel to buy a new dress…”
It was just past midday when Christel and Hazel came across the place they were looking for. For the most part they had spent their time exchanging small talk. Christel learned that Hazel planned of purchasing a permanent residence back home, in Eden. Christel had never thought of what he might do after this – probably return to Devin and plan for the next heist, after lying low for a while of course. It was a shame though – Christel had come to enjoy Hazel’s company, even though she forced him into this partnership in the first place. He found that she was a very cunning girl.
Then, as they brushed through the streets of Taelliwey and their talk swayed this way and that, they came to discussing their story for the heist. “I think you should be my wife,” he said simply.
Hazel was caught off guard by the statement and her cheeks blushed into a cherry red colour. “What?”
Christel smiled as he realised that she misunderstood. “For the heist,” he explained, “it’ll be much more believable if we go as a couple.”
“Oh,” Hazel breathed. “Yes, for the heist.” Whether she knew it or not, Hazel still had a troubled and embarrassed glance on her face. “Will we say that we’re of the Raetaii?”
“Even with masks on they’ll probably be able to tell. We’ll say that we’re business folk, of Eden – gold traders for the higher class.”
“Well it’s not all a lie,” she smiled, and she glanced amiably at a silver band of pearls through a shop window. “Besides, handling priceless riches is our speciality.”
“Precisely,” Christel agreed.
They entered the formal wear shop. A little bell sounded as Christel stepped inside. Despite being completely barren of customers, the store was nicely set out, but it wasn’t particularly large as far as Taelliwey went. There were windows all along the front wall of the shop, displaying dresses and attires for passing customers to see. The walls were all painted a bright sky-blue colour and they seemed to have brightened the room, and there were flowers of all sorts on the counter and on the shelves.
Christel expected the owner of the store to be much older than the woman he found at the counter – in fact she looked younger than he was. The woman stood and smiled, she had one of the most innocent faces that Christel had ever seen, and her deep blue eyes sparkled like ice under the morning sun. She wore a crystal-blue dress as well, but it was less in the absurd fashion of the rest of Taelliwey. As well as the dress, Christel saw that she had a band of white flowers in her hair above her ear, and her hair itself was crimson black where the flowers rested, but then the colour faded into a silvery white on the ends as it fell gently over her breast.
She spoke, and her voice was smooth and gentle, “Welcome to Merida’s Fabrics, I am Merida.” She smiled brightly. “What is it you need today?”
“A dress,” Hazel replied, “preferably something white.”
“Oh, and what’s the occasion?”
Christel spoke now, “My wife and I are attending a masquerade ball – tomorrow evening.”
“No doubt you are going to Garn’s little party. I hear everyone’s attending.”
Christel offered a polite smile. “You wouldn’t be wrong, my dear.”
The woman blushed and then moved from behind the counter, taking Hazel’s hand. “Please, let me show you the finest dresses of my collection. I can assure you will be most pleased.” She then turned to Christel, “And please, feel free to look around while you wait.”
Merida and Hazel went off and Christel was left alone in the quiet of the shop. He looked around. “I might as well get a new dinner jacket.”
He selected a simple black coat, lined on the inside with a smooth velvet-red – nothing too fancy. Then he selected two masks – it was a masquerade after all. He also made sure that they weren’t too revealing.
For Hazel he selected a half-mask that would cover the entire right side of her face, as well as her left eye. He did find the design quite impressive and he hoped that she’d like it. The mask was designed with an intricate picture of a rose. The green vines poured down from the eye like a flowing tear and moved down the cheek, with leaves sprouting on both sides. Above the eye rested the blood-red petals of the rose, sprouting out in a vibrant circle. The edge of the mask was lined with a thick back finish, and then a red streak. A single black line curved out from the left of the mask, underlining the other eye and encircling it with gold.
Christel selected a mask of similar shape for himself; only this one was designed as if an animal had clawed the right side of his face. It wasn’t as beautiful as Hazel’s, but it would have to do.
“An interesting selection,” said a voice from behind him. Christel spun around and found Merida leaning on the counter – her black and silver hair brushed over the polished wood. “You have nice taste,” she uttered as she turned over a sand timer that rested on the counter – she seemed different now than she was before. “I can see why she chose you.”
She? Does she mean Hazel? What was this woman talking about? Christel was immediately suspicious. “Who are you?” he questioned, with a hint of concern.
The woman stared at the timer as the sand slowly piled up on itself. “I am Merida.” She looked up. “Tell me, Christel Saan, do you believe in fate? Prophesy? Destiny?”
Her voice was so soft now. “How do you know my name?” he asked.
“The sands of time are eternally moving, I have seen to that. Soon she will call to you, and you will answer.”
“I don’t understand.” Christel said. “Who is she? What are you talking about?” Merida was obviously talking nonsense – she had to be.
Merida lifted a golden pocket-watch in front of Christel. An intricate wave of patterns was engraved into the gold. “Take this, as a gift from me,” she said. “Let it serve you in the journey to come, and help you find your destiny. Don’t lose it.”
Christel suddenly realised that he couldn’t move. He tried to lift his arms but they wouldn’t respond. He was like a caged bird. What the hell is happening? Merida placed the watch in Christel’s hand.
“You are now going to forget this, until you are needed.” Merida reached forward and touched Christel’s forehead with her finger. Suddenly everything went black and Christel opened his eyes and breathed as if he had just woken up from a bad dream. He remembered Merida returning from helping Hazel in the dressing room, and then he bought the coat, masks, and pocket-watch. But it all seemed so blurry somehow.
He forgot it all when Hazel stepped out of the dressing room. He was struck as if by lightning at the sight of her. She was beautiful!
“How do I look?” she said, timidly. “Not too over the top, is it?”
The dress was a stunning blend of silver and white – shining on Hazel’s body like stars in the evening. It left her arms bare, and the fabric over her breast was lighter, allowing for an incredible pattern of a hundred silver flowers to flow like water in the silk. To finish it all off was a decorative band of vibrantly coloured flower petals that were weaved through her soft hair as it flowed over her shoulders. As Christel gazed at her, the seconds that flew by felt longer, but in a good way. He could feel his heart beating in his chest, and butterflies.
What was he feeling? Christel had never seen Hazel like this before; he felt something powerful rush through his body. She’s incredible! “Wow,” he uttered. Hazel blushed and Christel suddenly felt tense. Oh god, did I just say that out loud!
“I’ll take that as an ‘okay’ then,” she smiled.
Christel felt a little embarrassed but it was too late to do anything now, so he just went along with it. They purchased everything that they needed and then watched as Merida waved them goodbye. Christel realised that he was looking at Hazel differently, he wondered if she noticed. They were so close to doing this now; so close indeed.
“Well, it would seem that just about everything is in order,” Devin said, as he raised the bronze viewing glass from his eye. “You two can rest now. I’ll make the final preparations and we’ll be good to go in no time.”
“Thank you, Devin.”
Christel rested easy that night, knowing that there was nothing left to do now but wait. He found Hazel coming up in his thoughts more often as he closed his eyes. Soon enough, as he wondered around in his thoughts, they became dreams and he fell asleep.ns 18.104.22.168da2